Air or Pro?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Dan!, Jun 24, 2012.


Which should I buy? (all are the June 2012 models)

  1. MacBook Air 13" - £999

    16 vote(s)
  2. MacBook Pro 13" - £999

    6 vote(s)
  3. MacBook Pro 15" - £1,499

    6 vote(s)
  1. Dan!, Jun 24, 2012
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2012

    Dan! macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2011
    I am looking to purchase my first Mac, and have decided that I will be getting either an Air or a Pro. I was originally going to get the 13" Air for £999 instead of the 13" £999 Pro for the following reasons:
    • It has a SSD, and having this would balance out the fact that it only has a 1.8GHz processor, right?
    • The £999 Pro always seems like the laptop that gets rejected by Apple, it doesn't get the dedicated graphics, it has an i5 not i7, etc.
    • In my opinion, it looks nicer, and considering it is pretty much the same specs as the Pro, I may as well get it since it is far thinner, lighter, and so on.
    • I don't need the disc drive, Ethernet, or Firewire
    • It has a higher resolution
    But I've started to doubt myself:
    • Perhaps the Pro would be better, simply because there is the option to upgrade in the future (to an SSD, to get more RAM, etc.)
      (I do plan on getting 8GB of RAM for the Air if I did buy it, hopefully John Lewis let you do that.)
    • Is it worth having the 2.5GHz processor since I can add an SSD where the disc drive is later on?
    • I've heard people saying the keyboard on the Air isn't as nice as the one on the Pro, can anyone confirm this or go into a little more depth?
    • I've also heard that the screen, even though it has a slightly higher resolution, isn't as good as the one on the Pro, because it is 'cheaply made'?
    • Finally, I've heard people say that if you think you are more of a Pro user, then get the Pro, but they never give reasons for this and from where I am it seems the specs are pretty much exactly the same. Is the Pro noticeably faster in general?
    I plan on using this as my main computer, I am upgrading from a Dell Latitude D620 which I find very slow, and tedious to use. I will be browsing the internet the majority of the time with 10+ tabs open at once, watching 1080p/720p YouTube videos and listening to iTunes, and I would hope that both laptops could do this without slowdown or overheating?
    But I do also plan on playing the Sims 3, which I have been able to run before, but very slowly. Even though the Pro & Air's graphics are integrated, can anyone say if the new Ivy Bridge HD4000 run games like this well?
    Whatever I purchase will certainly be a long term investment, but at the moment I am a student so my budget is limited. I didn't want to spend any more than £1000, but if I really want this laptop to last a long time, would it be better to spend £500 extra and get dedicated graphics, along with the upgradability of a 15" £1499 Pro?

    I would be really grateful if somebody could help.

    (I added a poll, hopefully people vote but if you have time then please comment with a reason for your answer! Thanks again.)

    EDIT: Also, I forgot to say, people have also said that running lots of applications at the same time can make the Air get as hot as 100 degrees. Is that something I need to worry about, to me that sounds pretty scary?!
  2. Lucas Godfrey macrumors 6502

    Lucas Godfrey

    Jul 12, 2010
    Somewhere between Here and There
    if you can afford it, get the 15"

    if not, get the 13"
    avoid the air. its good for basic usage, but the mbp smacks of performance.
    how about this, get the 13 for 999, then spend the extra on an ssd, (not from apple mind) problem solved.

    as a final note, yes the keyboard on the air isn't as good, its more... spongy.. if thats the best way to describe, its got ...flex to it.
  3. Dan! thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Thanks for the reply, do you think you could explain how the Pro is better in terms of performance? Does the 2.5GHz processor really make that big of a difference over the 1.8GHz? Thanks again.
  4. gibbo132 macrumors regular

    Jan 8, 2010
    I would tend to disagree with what has been said above.

    The 13" Pro in my opinion is an inferior laptop to the Air.
    Firstly it is much heavier, very thick and the resolution on the screen is shocking!
    Yes it has a higher clock speed than the Air but the SSD more than makes up for that.
    The Air is constantly being slagged off for it's low clock speed, I don't think thats a problem, it has hyper threading essentially allowing you to process two threads of information on each core so the system sees it as a 4 core processor, it also has turbo boost to allow the clock speed to go up to 2.8Ghz when needed.
    That combined with the SSD makes the air a very nice machine.
    In two weeks I will be moving from my current MBP 15" to a 13" Air!

    I can't wait to finally have a light laptop for carrying around all day!

    I would go for the base 13" with the upgraded RAM to 8GBs.
  5. Dan! thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Thank you very much for the reply! Thanks for introducing me to hyper threading, I've never heard of it before. Do you know if the 13" Pro can hyper thread? Either way the Air certainly does not seem so inferior to the 13" Pro now! I plan on purchasing an external hard drive (probably a Thunderbolt SSD) if I got the Air, so that would solve the problem of not having enough space.
  6. Lucas Godfrey macrumors 6502

    Lucas Godfrey

    Jul 12, 2010
    Somewhere between Here and There
    the macbook pro also has hyperthreading. 2 cores, 4 threads.

    the macbook pro also has turbo boost, reaching 3.1ghz.

    the macbook pro is the faster machine, i own both. the macbook pro is faster.

    the only real downside on the Pro is the standard hard drive which i recommend you drop for an SSD.
  7. imswimmin macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2011
    I have the 2011 2nd generation i5 Macbook Air, with 4 GB of RAM, and I can definitely do all of the tasks that you plan on doing (heavy internet browsing while listening to iTunes). I haven't run into any issues doing things like that where I could have felt that I needed a higher clock speed. The fact that the newer Air has an upgraded processor and integrated graphics card should only make things easier for you. One thing I would highly recommend, should you choose to go Air, is the 8GB RAM upgrade. Knowing that you won't be able to upgrade it later, this should be a must (especially considering you are planning on doing some heavy internet browsing).

    One concern you mentioned was about the keyboard. My brother has the last generation 13" macbook pro, and I always prefer his keyboard to mine. The funny thing is that he prefers my keyboard to his. It's all a matter of preference. Basically, the macbook pro keyboard has a bit more give in how much the keys depress and also IMO pushes back just enough (so you get some tactile feedback), while the macbook air is soft, light, and just easy to type on without as much "push-back". I prefer having more feedback, but there is nothing "unusable" about the Air keyboard at all. I've used it everyday for almost a year now, and have never been annoyed or irritated by it. It is by all means perfectly fine.

    Granted, anything "heavy" you choose to do will make the CPU run hotter. All macs however are great at dissipating heat so there shouldn't be any structural or hardware issues. The body might get a bit warm, but no laptop I know gets away from this "problem".

    As you can tell, I am a bit biased when I say that you should choose the Air. Both are great machines, but having used the two of them, I would definitely recommend the Air over the Pro.

    Let me know if you have any other questions. I'd be happy to answer. :)
  8. Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    Buy an iPad. It was made for people with your user profile and has more computing power than you will ever need. Seriously.
  9. Dan! thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2011
    Thank you for explaining that, and also thank you for your PM. It is clearer now why the Pro is faster, but from what imswimmin said they seem very similar, and it is just on paper that the Pro beats the Air. Side by side do you think the Pro (without an SSD, as that is an extra investment) would do anything noticeably faster than the Air?
    Thank you very much for your reply, your response has been very helpful in my decision.
    Have you ever experienced any slowdown or been frustrated when running multiple programs at once? I will probably have a few things in the background such as Dropbox, my backup program, Twitter (or Tweetbot, hopefully it's out by Christmas!) whilst using things like Photoshop, iPhoto, or watching 1080p video. I say those things as they are probably the most intensive things I will be doing, and I would hope the Air can handle this?

    I definitely plan on upgrading to 8GB RAM, but if I cannot would 4 still be enough? I say this because I would like to purchase it from John Lewis (as I receive a discount for being a partner), and I'm not sure if they let you upgrade anything like Apple do. Would it be worth spending £199.88 extra to get the 8GB RAM and get it from the Apple Store?

    Thanks for explaining about the keyboards, I will have to try the keyboards out in store to see if I can tell the difference. Have you noticed any wearing down of the keyboard whilst using it?

    One final question, have you tried any light gaming on your Air, eg. The Sims 3? This is a game I plan on playing quite a lot and whilst the Air does meet the system requirements, I am a little worried about the integrated graphics. I understand if a computer does not have dedicated graphics, then some memory (?) has to be taken from the RAM, but if there is 4/8GB of it won't that give you more memory than if you had 256MB dedicated, for example?
    Thank you very much for offering to answer my questions, sorry if I've bombarded you a little. I really do appreciate you stopping to write a detailed, coherent response as it has helped me very much.
    Thank you for your reply, I don't think I would be able to use only an iPad as it simply does not have all of the features of a desktop. There are also too many little things that prevent me from only using the iPad. Thanks for the suggestion though.
  10. imswimmin macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2011
    Sure thing! I'm happy to help you out!

    I haven't experienced any real slow down (from the processor). Just to give you an idea of my normal tasks, I usually have a couple safari tabs open, iTunes playing in the background, and a couple of word documents open. As a result, the only real limitation that I have found is the 4GB of RAM. I came from a pretty heavy duty windows laptop that had 8 GB of RAM, and I was used to having anything I wanted open without ever getting close to the limit. So running major apps like iPhoto and Photoshop (I don't have it on my mac, but I'm aware it is a memory hog) may require you to close a couple of applications. I use iPhoto A LOT (I have a couple thousand photos in my library) so I definitely hit RAM limitations when I don't close a couple of tabs word documents and such. Don't take this in the wrong way though. 4 GB of RAM is by all means manageable. 8 GB would just give you that buffer space to work with.

    Yeah, I would definitely suggest you try out the keyboards if you can. Although, don't factor out the MBA just because of the keyboard. Again, even though I do prefer the MBP, the MBA is by all means a great machine. :cool:

    I'll be honest, I don't really game on my Mac much at all. In fact, I've never even played any Sims game before. My brother did download this one game, though, called Modern Combat Domination, and suggested I get it as well so that I could play against him. I bought my mac during the back to school promotion and had the $100 app store gift card, so I just said why not, and picked it up. The game isn't extremely graphics hungry (like call of duties and other mainstream first person shooters - you should probably look it up so you can get an idea of how it compares to Sims 3), and plays nicely without hiccups on my computer. However, I should note that my CPU temperatures skyrocket when I play this game. They quickly jump to 80 degrees C and after maybe 10-20 minutes will hover in the 90s. By this point the fans are spinning at max RPM (6000 to 6500 RPM - a noticeable whir). It isn't anything that isn't normal or to be expected at all though. I guess it is just worrying for me since I don't play games too often and therefore don't usually see my CPU reaching those temperatures regularly and my fans to spin so fast. I should note that my brother's mac has the same reaction too. Its fans shoot up too, so it definitely isn't limited to the MBA.

    On the subject of fans, I thought I would post an observation that perhaps other members can comment upon. I'm not sure if it's just in my unique situation, but I find that my MBA is silent about 90% of the time (the fans running at 2000 RPM), and only jumps up very slightly (2500 to 3500 RPM - a slight hum) when doing slightly intensive tasks, like after playing 1080p youtube for 30-45 min. My brother's MBP on the other hand seems like it is being taxed all the time (even when he only has safari, iTunes, and a couple of word documents open) and has its fans running much higher than it should be. Now this could be for a variety of external reasons. He could be doing something in the background I am unaware of, or he could be blocking his vents (since he often sits on the couch when using it). I'm not really sure what the reason behind this is, but it is just an observation I've picked up.

    Hopefully, I answered and covered everything. If not, do let me know, and I'd be happy to answer again.
  11. mariocapo macrumors member

    Sep 3, 2009
    Las Vegas
    I got the 2013 13" Air with 8 GB Ram. This thing flies with Photoshop, Lightroom, Firefox and Safari running simultaneously. And I'm the type of Safari user with many windows and tabs left open. Hope that helps some. I opted for the i7, but that shouldn't be too much of a difference from stock.
  12. imswimmin macrumors regular

    Apr 6, 2011
    Woah! The 2013 model? Nice! Just playing! :p

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